Alma pilots google classes


There are different ways to learn on campus. Professors teach groups of students in classrooms about subjects pertaining to students’ majors. A form of teaching that is appearing more often is the Google Classroom setting.

Classes that are taught in Google Classroom styles perform the same functions, but they include students from different universities across Michigan. The classes are connected using cameras to show all classes involved in the class.

Google Classrooms differ from traditional classroom settings in many ways, but the purpose of Google Classrooms are the same as traditional classrooms. “In my opinion, the purpose of a Google classroom is to expand and broaden the horizons of learning,” said Victoria Centeno (’20).

Besides solely teaching students about their studies, Google Classrooms also serve another purpose; they bring other schools together.

Kara Andersen-Denike (’20) believes that the main purpose of Google Classrooms is to include students from other colleges in order to gain outside perspective on common classes that [students] have. Along with Centeno and Andersen-Denike, Kelsey Weiss (’20) believes that a goal of Google Classrooms is to have students collaborate with students from other colleges.

Centeno, Andersen-Denike and Weiss are all in Professor Wallmenich’s African American Literature class (ENG 367).

There are pros and cons to Google Classroom. “The ability to understand another perspective is a huge pro for me,” said Centeno. AndersenDenike said that one pro of being in a Google Classroom is the ability to have new perspectives. Also, “[a] pro of being in the Google Classroom is the expanse of knowledge that we can share,” said Weiss. “Also, you are not limited to just the ideas of those on your campus.”

There are also cons to being in Google Classroom setting as opposed to traditional classroom settings. AndersenDenike says that one drawback to being in a Google Classroom environment is the lack of oneon-one interactions between the professor and students.

“There are pros to being in traditional classrooms rather than being in Google Classrooms,” said Weiss. “For example, in a traditional classroom, it’s easier to focus on the topic being taught rather than focusing on a screen, and it’s also easier to have a discussion in person and break into groups.” Teaching in person has the advantages of being able to use physical examples and methods to explain concepts, where Google Classrooms do not have the same advantage.

Andersen-Denike said that she likes the traditional classroom setting better because she is able to get more one-on-one time with her professor, and she believes that there are less distractions when the professor is teaching in person, rather than teaching over a video connection.

Centeno, Andersen-Denike, and Weiss all said that they prefer traditional classroom settings as opposed to Google Classrooms. “If given the choice, I would go back to traditional classrooms,” said Centeno. “A subject such as English takes such an intimate approach on the subject matter. I have taken classes with this professor before and I think that is a strength of her teaching is how engaged she gets the class and the use of collaboration. This is just hindered by the Google classroom.”

Freshmen modernize 1918 flu


The Spanish flu is coming back to Alma, but not in the form of the annual bouts of the Alma Plague. A First Year Seminar, led by Associate Professor of History Kristin Olbertson, is taking a look one hundred years back in history to the Spanish flu epidemic that arrived in Alma in the fall of 1918.

The First Year Seminar, “The 1918 Flu in Michigan”, aims to provide a description of what life was like in Alma during the time of the epidemic. Students are allowed to go into the library archives and view historical documents from that time, such as newspapers, photographs and other such artifacts. They even have articles about the Spanish flu from the Almanian, written during its fledgling years.

The Spanish flu, also known as influenza, arrived in the United States in 1918 and spread until 1919, when it was finally contained. In the autumn of 1918, the Spanish flu arrived in Detroit and quickly made its way through the state, hitting Detroit, Bay City, Saginaw, Grand Rapids and even Alma.

The college was even quarantined for a bit to ensure that the epidemic didn’t continue its path up Michigan, but several cases of the Spanish flu continued to be reported further and further up state, including cities in the Upper Peninsula such as Marquette. Overall, around 675,000 people died of the Spanish flu in the United States.

To spread awareness of the centennial of this epidemic, Olbertson is having her First Year Seminar students run several social media pages to update people on what life was like at the time of the epidemic.

They post daily news headlines following the timeline of events on the spread of the Spanish flu on their Twitter and Facebook pages, giving an almost real-time effect to those who are following it.

Olbertson is excited about the work happening in her class. “Often students have to wait until they’re in an upper level course or even graduate school before they have a chance to work extensively in the archives, and these students will be doing so in their first week of class,” Olbertson says. The students’ work doesn’t just cover the historical perspective of the Spanish flu. By posting headlines on their Twitter, the students also show the rising issues related to government censorship and public health that occurred as the Spanish flu was spreading.

While officials in Detroit were aware of the spread of the Spanish flu, they downplayed its severity, and the first several deaths weren’t even published in local papers. It was only until nurses at a local hospital became sick and large amounts of new cases were being diagnosed every day did they begin to take action.

Public places such as schools and parks were closed, and weren’t allowed to reopen for several months, until the epidemic slowed.

So far, the future looks good for Olbertson’s First Year Seminar. “I’m looking forward to having first-year students experience the excitement of getting to work with these newspapers,” Olbertson says. “My hope is that they leave the class feeling empowered to conduct their own research into family or local history.”

The class will continue reporting on the spread of the Spanish flu in Michigan for the remainder of the term. Their Facebook page, Michigan Flu 1918, and their Twitter page, @MichFlu_1918, are updated consistently and contain several articles and headlines concerning the Spanish flu in Michigan and in Alma.

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